This is the Biggest and Most Damaging Blizzard in Ohio History That Shut Down the State


On January 26, 1978, Ohio witnessed its most severe blizzard in recorded history. The storm, which was part of a bigger weather system that hit the Midwest and Northeast, delivered heavy snow, high winds, and record-low temperatures to the state. The snowstorm immobilized Ohio for many days, resulting in significant damage, power disruptions, and deaths.

The Storm

The blizzard was triggered by a low-pressure system that formed over the Gulf of Mexico and proceeded northeast, increasing when it reached frigid Canadian air. The storm hit Ohio on the evening of January 25 and continued to dump snow until the morning of January 27.

The snowfall varied from 7 to 40 inches, with drifts reaching 25 feet high. Wind gusts went up to 100 mph, resulting in whiteout conditions and wind chills as low as -60°F. Thunder and lightning were also present during the storm, which is unusual for winter.

The Impact

The snow had a severe effect on Ohio and its population. The storm shut down all major roadways, airports, schools, and businesses. Many individuals were stuck in their automobiles, houses, or shelters, unable to obtain food, water, or medical assistance.

The storm produced severe power disruptions, impacting more than a million consumers. The storm caused damage to buildings, automobiles, crops, and livestock. The snowstorm killed 51 people in Ohio, largely from cold, heart attacks, or accidents. The hurricane also wounded hundreds of people and cost an estimated $210 million in damage.

The Response

The snowstorm triggered a huge reaction by municipal, state, and federal officials. Governor James Rhodes proclaimed a state of emergency, deploying the National Guard and the Ohio State Highway Patrol to help in rescue and recovery efforts. President Jimmy Carter also designated a federal disaster zone and dispatched government assistance and resources to the state.

The Red Cross, Salvation Army, and other relief organizations supplied food, drink, blankets, and shelter to storm victims. Utility providers worked around the clock to restore power and service in the impacted regions. The storm also sparked acts of courage and compassion among the residents, who helped one another survive the catastrophe.


In summary, Ohio’s most catastrophic snowstorm occurred on January 26, 1978, paralyzing the state with heavy snow, powerful winds, and record-low temperatures. The impact was severe, resulting in significant damage, power outages, and 51 deaths. The reaction was huge, including the government, the National Guard, and humanitarian groups. Residents responded with courage and compassion, demonstrating resilience in the face of a horrific natural calamity.

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